Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What I Learn From Reading Fabulous Novels

I'm sorry yesterday's post was an unintelligible jumble of screams and adoration.  I was simply that excited when I finished.  This is probably one of the few books I've said it for, but I wish every day I could wake up and forget the whole thing so I could experience the magic of "the first time read" over and over again.  

So, I think I will follow up with an analysis for what The Last Olympian does for my writing.  See? I'm being relevant and helpful.  :-)

On Sunday, I set aside a block of time (I should have been studying for finals, but you know. Sacrifices.) and finally did a thorough read-thru edit and notes for ATRS.  I was lost.  I honestly didn't know where I should go from there.  A hundred problems stood out to me, and I didn't know how to tackle them.  Rather, I didn't want to tackle them.  It was a monumental task.  I knew long before writing the first draft that revisions would suck, but I still wasn't prepared for it when the next step was staring me in the face.  My writing ground to a halt.

Then, I read The Last Olympian.

At first, I was a little bit discouraged because I kept thinking, "How could my writing ever be that awesome?"  Answer: Learn from others.  Sometimes, there are stories you read that can't help but inspire you to write.  This was one of them.  After a few hours of moping, I realized something important.  I didn't want to give up on ATRS.  I wanted to make it so good that other people would look at it with the same kind of admiration I look at TLO.  And I knew I could make it better, if I put in the work.  

What did I learn from The Last Olympian and Rick Riordan?

1) Characterization.  He is mad good at it.  On his site, he gives a piece of advice that I always try to keep in mind: "You should be able to open to any page, read a piece of dialogue, and know which character is speaking, simply from the voice."  One day, I want to be able to look at my writing and say it does that.

2) Surprises.  Stories aren't fun unless something catches you by surprise.  And it's even better when the plot twist is totally unexpected, yet you look back and think, "Hey, I should have known that would happen!"

3) Romance.  Whoever said men couldn't write romance was a liar.  He completely schools Stephenie Meyer at it.  This is what real love reads like, vampire lady!  Take it!  It's called subtlety, and it's called romantic development, not just "Ooo, he looked at me; BAM WE'RE IN LOVE." Twilight:

(Okay, please don't misunderstand me.  I did read and enjoy Twilight.  It's still a good series. Edward and Bella kind of push suspension of disbelief at times with their loveyness.)

4) Pacing.  Oh.  Wow.  He is the ultimate supreme being of pacing.  It's almost orgasmic, it's so beautiful.

There you have it.  I wish all children's novels were this fabulous.

"Steam," my determined second novel, will be postponed for a couple of months while ATRS undergoes some serious plastic surgery.  I am excited for the end result.


  1. You're always relevant and helpful : )

    By the way, since you mentioned "Twilight", I thought you might enjoy the post I wrote awhile ago (not sure if you read it or not)

  2. You hit the nail on the head. Twilight is a one-time read, and then you pack it away and never look at it again if you don't want it to taint your writing. I didn't really LEARN anything from that series except that sometimes, you need sheer dumb luck in the publishing industry.

  3. I see you're a huge Percy Jackson fan. I'm trying to decide if this is a good series to get my 9 yr old niece into so she has something to read after we finish the last HP book. Is she too young for it as a third grader? I bought the first book but haven't had the chance to read it yet.

    Oh and as far as Twilight goes, you already know from my posts that I am a big fan. It's so funny how many writers dislike the series. I can totally see the faults in her writing but I adore it spite of it. That's the beauty of any kind of art - there will always be those that love it and those that hate it with every imaginable opinion in between!